Mitchell Reports | May 11, 2012
>>> mitt romney taking off message from his prep school past. what romney would like us to think of as a teenage prank is front page news, but the candidate is doing everything he can to move past the story.
>> i don't recall the incident myself. i've seen the reports. not going to argue with that. there is no question but i did some stupid things when what is in high school .
>> stupid things indeed. ruth marcus and todd pertham, author of a monthly article in " vanity fair ." some people are saying why is what happens in high school relevant? the case for this deeply reported story, which is now page one on "the washington post " which went up online yesterday morning.
>> well, we would all like to hope what happens in high school stays in high school . the fact of the matter is when you're running for president it doesn't stay in high school . we all did things in high school and perhaps college and maybe later that we regret now. what does it say about his character? more important for my point of view, what does his failure to remember this incident which really seared not just the victim but some of the other perpetrators? he was the ring leader of this attack on a man who was gay, who was in tears, petrify ied, cutting off his hair. he doesn't remember that? if i had done something like that, i would feel, i would remember it, i'd like to think and i would feel shame.
>> what some people suggest instead of referring to it as a prank as the romney team did or something stupid in high school , should he have said i don't recall it, but this does raise the important question of bullying, and in the current context i learned a lot as a father, a grandfather, and i hope this is a teachable moment. was there some other way to frame this?
>> i do think it is incredible he doesn't believe it. there is too much testimony for other people who have vivid memories of it.
>> he didn't contest the facts.
>> he could say yes, our culture changed greatly in the past 50 years. what was seen as rough stuff --
>> high jinks.
>> would not be acceptable today. there is evidence if it happened today the person would be expelled, there would be a huge hazing investigation, harassment panel. boarding schools have these things now. there are many state laws that apply in these situations. of course it comes on the heels of president obama 's statement of gay marriage . mitt romney has undermined his image as a straight arrow mormon missionary good guy by having maybe done something straight out of "lords of discipline" or " separate peace ."
>> i was thinking about " separate peace ." those years to humanize and warm up the image of her husband, talking about his wild and crazy behaviors. they try to frame it as pranks.
>> that's the interesting thing. the campaign had been affirmatively using the high jinks pranks line to humanize the candidate without "the washington post " able to find it doing some due diligence to figure out what those pranks we all look at were. i would fault the campaign for not having taken this seriously enough before the story came out. what we saw at least reported in the story was the campaign saying, well this seems exaggerated, he doesn't recall it. let's move on. everybody knows he is a sensitive guy. the campaign could have seized on it affirmatively even before this story was done to have the candidate say i don't recall this, but this is horrible, terrible, no one should treat another human being that way, whatever their sexual orientation, whatever the reason, this is not the way i raised my kids. something. this was not well handled.
>> it fills in the biography. it reemphasizes this is a prep school guy.
>> it makes you think differently about the dog. makes you think differently about the milk of human kindness in this vern's veins. the story is so thoroughly reported.
>> it all comes back to gail collins and the dog.
>> we'll never get rid of the dog. he will never leave us. i am not faulting the governor for the dog. i am faulting him for this.
>> we are talking about very different equities here. ruth marcus , thank you very much. todd, thank you. look forward to this column, monthly column in